Biggest local stories of 2022: Montana embraces recreational marijuana sales

Jesse Chaney

Montana’s ban on recreational cannabis sales ended this year, bolstering marijuana businesses and generating millions of dollars in new tax revenue for the state and local governments.

After voters overwhelmingly supported recreational marijuana legalization in 2020, cannabis consumption was enshrined in the state constitution alongside alcohol and retail sales began in 2022. While Lewis and Clark County and many other local jurisdictions have embraced this change, recreational cannabis sales remain prohibited in 28 counties and the city of Billings.

The state plans to collect more than $41 million in tax revenue on the nearly $278 million worth of medical and recreational cannabis sold in Montana by the end of November. The state is projecting tax revenue collections to reach $50 million in fiscal year 2024 and $57 million in fiscal year 2025.

The state has allocated the first $6 million of the annual tax revenue to the Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment (HEART) fund. After that distribution, 20% of the remainder goes to Fish, Wildlife and Parks to acquire public land access, 4% goes to the state park account, 4% goes to the trails and recreational facilities account, 4% goes to the nongame wildlife account, 3%

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